Road & Track Editor Facing Charges For Dirt Bike Ride Through Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A Road & Track editor who tested a dirt bike in October by riding through Great Smoky Mountains National Park when the park system was closed, and rode through a creek, faces three misdemeanor charges that could land him in jail, according to park officials.
Zach Bowman, who edits the magazine's website, wrote about borrowing a friend's 250cc dirt bike for a joy ride through the park soon after the National Park System was shut down when Congress failed to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund government operations.
In the resulting story, A 250cc middle finger to the government shutdown: Civil Disobedience on Two Wheels, Mr. Bowman wrote about gunning the bike through a creek that runs past the Parson Branch Road. The writer also videotaped his escapade with a helmet-cam, and embedded it in the story on the website.
Park officials say the writer was cited for violating a closure, traveling the wrong way on a one-way road, and driving off road.
"These fall into the petty misdemeanor category and carry a maximum penalty of up to $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail. There is no minimum fine because of the mandatory court appearance which allows the judge full flexibility to assign whatever judgment he determines fair without going over the maximum allowable," said park spokeswoman Dana Soehn.
"Theoretically, each offense is considered separately, although, it is likely that the judge will consider them as one event."
No court date has been set.